Fusahiro Shimojima, Katana Master
“I chose to become a Katana-kaji swordsmith when I realized that “katana” wasn’t just a weapon, but something passed down from generation to generation. ”
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In the Edo Period, some 400 years ago, Japanese swords known as “katana” were widely used by samurai soldiers ruling Japan. The craft of katana making has dwindled as of the Meiji Period, which followed the the Edo Period, during which time Japan opened its doors internationally and restricted samurai privileges. Today, kantana can only be seen in museums, private collections, or in movies.
The National Museum in Ueno was where Fusahiro Shimojima, a professional katana craftsman, saw his first katana. The museum visit was a middle school class trip, and it was the start of Fusahiro’s fascination with katana. Middle school Fusahiro had believed, like all his classmates, that katana was something from the past that was no longer made, but the pristine condition of the 800 year old sword changed his beliefs. The sword was not rusty like other 800 year old artifacts, and that was because the sword was mended by through the generations.
To Fusahiro, katana was no longer a weapon; it was a culture. It was a culture passed down and curated by passionate and dedicated people throughout generations, and he understood then that he needed to be a part of this culture.
Recently, Fusahiro has opened the doors to his workshop for guests to learn more about katana and how they are made. Though he rarely allows people except his clients to enter the workshop, he now sees the need to spread awareness about his diminishing craft. He wants people of all backgrounds to see how katana is made and learn to appreciate the beauty of the edged tool.
Walking into the industrial workshop of Fusahiro and seeing the walls lined with various metal working tools brings you back to a time of the samurai soldiers. The dark, cool atmosphere drowns the outside world and immerses you in a sense of mystery. Seeing the katana for the first time in this atmosphere will bring goosebumps to your arms as you appreciate its elegant beauty, while acknowledging its deadly capabilities.
You truly will not know the allure and power of the katana until you’re standing right before it in a present-day katana workshop.